Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Mother's Eid Without Her Son

His cricket bat lies abandoned in the corner of the small courtyard in front of his home in downtown Nowhatta. His bicycle too stands there; it is covered with a brown cloth. He would ride it to fetch bread and vegetables from the market. Not now. Faisal Showkat Dar is dead. He was killed. He was 17.

Faisal was shot on August 12 during a massive pro-freedom protest at Baghi-Mehtab in the city outskirts. A bullet from a troopers’ gun pierced Faisal’s left side of abdomen. Hot blood gushed forth from the gaping bullet wound and wet the tarmac. His t-sheet’s colour too had changed to scarlet. In the background, youth raised their fists in the air and shouted pro-freedom slogans. He bled profusely. He died in hospital the next day amid prayers by his mother and aunts.

“It feels hollow,” says his uncle Imtiyaz Ahmed. “He was a child. He was innocent.”

As he speaks, the cramped room is filled with murmurs and sobs. Faisal’s aunts and other relatives have entered the room and are talking among themselves, their right hands folded into fists and held to their mouth. Everybody’s eyes are moist. In a corner of the room, the television set is covered with a grey shawl. Maybe because nobody watches cricket now. Faisal loved cricket.

Faisal’s mother Nazima Showkat fiddles with the gold ring in her finger, her eyes filled with tears, her chin quivering. “It feels as if I am scratching a wound every time I think of Faisal.” She sobs, “I wish he had not gone to Baghi-Mehtab on the fateful day.” Baghi-Mehtab houses his nanihal (maternal home). Faisal had gone there on Saturday, August 9, 2008. “My god, he was a gentle son.”

Kashmir lost more than 50 gentle sons who were shot dead by the army and police during the recent massive peaceful protests.

The transfusion of 26 points didn’t help save Faisal’s life. It didn’t possibly suffice the blood that he had imbued the road with. He died on the hospital bed while the blood drops dripped through the tube into his skin.

Faisal was an eleventh class Commerce student at S.P. Higher Secondary School. Cricket and friends were his life. He would come from his school, throw down his bag in the kitchen, take lunch and rush to play cricket with his friends. “Now nobody would play cricket here,” Nazima says and the room breaks into wails and moans. His father, Haji Showkat Ahmed Dar is looking at the covered up TV all the time. Only his eyes are dry.

He speaks for the first time in a quivering voice. “Faisal was an obedient boy, (Aulad-e-salihah).” His voice chokes, he swallows, he looks down and speaks again, “He would do nothing without my permission.” The tangled wires on the electric pole outside the house are visible from the grilled window. The room is hushed once again.

At his maternal uncle’s home at Chadoora, Baghi-Mehtab, Faisal was oblivious to the bloodbath on the streets. He was playing cricket with his cousin Raju. It was August 11, the day of Muzaffarabad Chalo call. Later in the evening, having dinner with Raju, he asks, “Why are they killing people?” Nobody had an answer. They ate their food and went to sleep.

More than (-----) people were killed on August 11, 2008.

On the morning of August 12, Faisal hears slogans outside the house at Baghi-Mehtab. They grow louder and louder. The previous day’s events had stirred something inside him. Maybe the seed of the question that he had planted needed an answer. He leaves his salt-tea and the bread behind. He dares to venture out. Wearing a worn-out slipper, he scurries from the backdoor to join the protesters, to find answers. He never came back. He never will.

“Only a mother can understand this pain,” Nazima says. “This Eid will be different for us. Without Faisal how will I live?”

A suffocating silence descends upon the room.


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Anonymous said...

Undoubtedly your command of the language is good and you surely write coming to the leitmotiv of your heart felt and heart rending renditions --some where I read a person saying - I am educated and I know what is right and what is wrong..azadi azadi..unfortunately, as I see it, education has failed to teach anything and the meaning of azadi does not seem to be clear to us..all of us..u included..if India were to consider all the rebel demands and allow 'azadi', there would not be an India left..for that matter, if Pakistan were to do likewise, wonder what part will remain with the tag an extent that goes for China and so many other places and no continent is safe from that malaise..look at Pakistan today..when fanaticism breeds perverse ideas of Kashmiriyat and azadi and when we cease to distinguish objectively right from wrong and like a herd of sheep, pay heed to the calls of the self- proclaimed leaders who are little minds with megalomaniacal egos and care only for their own individual power and pelf, peace can never be ours..youth has no experience and considers a little education as enough evidence to decide and unfortunately, the experienced too have let the people down by following a suicidal path, little realising the REAL needs of the people..phew..killings and injustice any where is bad and condemnable and I wish, some thing could be done to avoid recurrence of such incidents..but no one can ensure that if people themselves are willing to be pawns in the hands of a handful of little minds..the lessons of history are forgotten..the Kabailis coming to rape and plunder Kashmir were saved by the very breed of soldiers who are by and large doing their duty even don't paint the whole lot with the same brush..if you do, why you feel bad when a section of the society tends to says that the entire Kashmiri (muslims) community is involved in ethnic cleansing..there is a lot on my mind but there is little guarantee that these words will even be seen..wish you good luck and wish the whole lot of us to have saner senses and understanding with a vision of what is good for generations to come and not just for some bloated egos and self proclaimed messiahs of Kashmiri folks and the so called Kashmiriyat.

Ajaz Ahmed Kashmiri said...

Anonymous....You are the porpagandist and trying to instill pessimistic view in the minds of Kashmiris. You say that not all can be painted with the same brush as far as Slumdog army of India is concerned and by and large they are doing a good job. I would like to tell you that whether Slumdog army of Indian occupation kills or us not, their mere presence in the valley itself is seen as aggression by Kahsmiris. Slumdog army of India must leave Kashmir alone. Britian also used to argue that if they leave India, there will be chaos. India did not debate on what kind of system will govern it during the freedom struggle. This was done post freedom.The only objective was to get Britishers out of India. Same here ....OUR OBJECTIVE IS TO GET INDIA OUT OF KASHMIR...Dont try to devaite the focus of Kashmiris towards achieving the goal of freedom from India.

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